Kiss me I'm Irish
You thought you'd be reading about me kissing an Irish guy didn't you? Well actually just the Blarney stone, not today boys. Plenty of germs and bacteria on that rock as it is, though they claim to sanitize it daily.
This weekend a lot of my Saint Mary's friends traveled to Paris to see iconic places like the Eiffel tower and eat croissants. I personally have never dreamed of going to Paris, though I believe it is beautiful, so I wanted to spend my money on something I wanted to see! I made plans to venture down to Cork where I spent an extended weekend with some gals.
On Tuesday I was in an episode of CSI:Maynooth (or we should have been). Because the garda and the pub management were of no help with our stolen phones, Maddy tracked down where her iphone was via gps. We then ventured into the countryside, with our French driver (Henri), German henchman (Adrian), and Irish sidekick (Andy) of course. We proceeded to knock on doors asking about lost/stolen phones and actually found out from some parents that a boy our age had found a phone. Our henchmen's services were not needed but eventually we discovered they had HER phone, while mine is still lost among the Irish population.
On a totally unrelated note, I bought Peanut Butter for the first time this week and it very sweet and doesn't even taste like peanuts. Additionally the whipped cream here is cream that has been legitimately whipped and its sooo good. The french fries are called "chips" and though I've never been a huge fan, here they are chunky and delicious.
While I am entertaining the differences, motor vehicles do not yield to pedestrians whatsoever; time is not of the essence so nothing gets completed when they say it will; every store and cafe closes unreasonably early in mid-afternoon (in my opinion); they smoke a ridiculous amount of cigarettes; and there is much pride in being "Catholic" or "Protestant" even though most people here I've met are Catholic or agnostic.
Wednesday night two friends and I signed up to do a student trip to Dublin on a "party bus" oh and was it a party. From a sober perspective it was quite the experience, yet no matter what I am doing I roll with it and I make it a good time. We were the only Americans on the trip and we got a good dose of the young hip culture. The Irish really know how to have a grand time (aka drink) and they are very entertaining.
For my weekend trip we traveled to Cork, which is the second largest city in Ireland, on the southern coast. We stayed at a hostel on the biggest hill I've seen yet in Ireland; this was my first time staying in a hostel and though it was pretty dodgy, I felt fairly safe. The room was the size of my single in Maynooth, with six bunks. We learned that the bathroom was coed pretty quick; I walked into the bathroom and was greeted by two butt-naked french men who giggled when I ran away.
Once we settled in we found a great traditional Irish restaurant, Gallagher's, and relaxed as we listened to the small Irish man who was doing covers for the pub. The next day we headed down to Kinsale which is a small town on the coast with beautiful harbors and vividly colored houses along the hillside. The weather was amazing and it was fun to explore such a quaint town. For dinner we ate at Fishy Fishy which apparently was named the best seafood in Ireland. The chef, Martin Shanahan, has been on food network and we were able to meet him! I had the best fish and chips I think I have ever had. After a full day of put-sing around we headed back via bus to Cork to explore the nightlife. As we were sipping our wine in the hostel gathering room we met a group of friendly Brazilians! Actually I have yet to meet unfriendly Brazilians and I plan to visit their vast country as soon as I have the funds. We ended up going out with them and they showed us how to dance the night away Brazil-style at a local pub.
The next day we traveled by bus again to visit the Blarney castle! On the 25 minute bus ride somehow our bus broke down and we were stranded for almost an hour on the side of the road. But we had good spirits about it and listened as a group of middle eastern guys sang about chicken nuggets.
Eventually we made it. The castle itself is gorgeous, built into a hillside standing very tall and slender. I crawled through the dungeon and crept up the spiraling staircase that promised to lead to the famous Blarney stone. By the stone there is a sweet old man who holds you as you lean back, risking your life (kind of), to kiss the stone. I'm hoping it builds my immunity from all the saliva that must be infesting that surface. The grounds surrounding the castle are full of pathways and gardens that already had flowers blossoming for the spring. On a trail farther back we walked to a lake and found fields of horses and daffodils. We almost got locked in the Blarney garden and castle but we made it out alive. Saturday morning we packed up and had a nice brunch at a small cafe called, Tara's Tea Room. We then shopped and explored Cork before we had to catch our train in the afternoon.
The more I am here and travel the more I realize how big the world is, and it really opens my eyes. There is so much more out there then my hometown, my life and my experiences. Not everyone speaks the same language or has the same beliefs. There are so many people out there to learn something from and you can teach them something in return.
Things might not go exactly the way I plan it or want it to go but with each curve-ball comes a lesson to learn and grow from.